Is Lane Splitting Legal in Arizona?


From scenic drives to the thrill of speed, owning a motorcycle offers many exciting advantages. However, many motorcycle owners specifically enjoy the convenience of navigating traffic more easily by moving through lanes and in between cars. 

If you are one of these avid motorcycle enthusiasts in the Grand Canyon state, one of the first questions you’ll likely ask yourself is—is lane splitting legal in Arizona? This guide covers Arizona’s laws surrounding lane splitting and whether you can get away with weaving in between cars while on the road.

What is Lane Splitting?

Lane splitting is the act of riding a bicycle or motorcycle between lanes or rows of traffic moving in the same direction. By the definition of lane splitting, both the motorcycle and traffic are moving in the process. Lane splitting may also be referred to as; white lining, filtering, stripe lining or lane sharing.

It’s important to note that lane splitting is often confused with lane filtering, which is different. Lane filtering is the act of moving in between cars that are stopped while maintaining a slow speed. These acts are treated differently under the law.

Lane splitting is common in traffic-dense urban areas–it saves time and allows motorcycles to bypass other cars. However, that doesn’t make it safe. There are many risks involved with lane splitting, especially when traffic is moving at high speeds.

The act of lane splitting often requires quick maneuvers from motorcyclists, moving through drivers’ blind spots, and forcing extra awareness from drivers. As a result, lane splitting can be dangerous for both motorcyclists and drivers and increase the risk of accidents.

Is Lane Splitting Legal in Arizona?

Lane splitting is not legal in Arizona, as outlined clearly in A.R.S. 28-903. The law clearly states that “a person shall not operate a motorcycle between the lanes of traffic or between adjacent rows of vehicles.”

The law also states that motorcyclists have the right to use a full lane. Motorcyclists may also share a lane side-by-side as long as there are no more than two riders in parallel and both riders have mutually agreed to share the lane. Even while lane sharing, though, motorcyclists must follow the flow of traffic and must not move in between cars and split lanes to pass.

Is Lane Filtering Legal in Arizona?

Lane filtering is a separate practice and involves moving in between lanes of traffic when other vehicles are stopped. Because other vehicles are not moving around the motorcyclist, the act is much safer than lane-splitting and often is looked upon more favorably under states’ laws. As of 2022, Arizona law allows motorcyclists to lane filter under Arizona Senate Bill 1273.

The law allows lane filtering under the following conditions:

  • The posted speed limit is not more than 45 miles per hour
  • The motorcycle is traveling no faster than 15 miles per hour while filtering
  • Vehicles are completely stopped
  • The street has at least two or more lanes in the same direction.

However, it’s important to note that this law update does not make lane splitting legal in any circumstances. It is still illegal in Arizona for motorcyclists to travel in between moving cars. This lane filtering law also does not apply to trikes, Spyders, or Slingshots.

What Puts Me at Fault as a Motorcyclist?

As a motorcyclist, you can be put at fault for any damage done to surrounding vehicles in the act of lane splitting. If you cause an accident or even so much as scratch a car’s mirror while lane splitting, you, as the motorcyclist, are at fault.

Many people argue that lane splitting is a good idea as long as it is done safely and with enough space. However, the reality is that lane splitting offers several risks and makes it more difficult for drivers to react.

By lane splitting at any time, you are automatically opening yourself to fault for a potential accident in the eyes of the law. If you, as a motorcyclist, decide to share a lane with another car or, if two cars are next to each other and you decide to squeeze yourself between them, you are lane splitting. 

If this action results in an accident, even if you do not initiate contact with the vehicle, you are at fault. For example, if someone ends up moving over and hitting you or, you hit them, or even if you so much as scratch their mirror, in the eyes of the law–it is your fault. 

Precaution and Safety

Lane splitting is illegal largely because it is extremely dangerous for everybody involved—not just the motorcyclist but also other road users and pedestrians. A motorcyclist can inadvertently cause an accident by lane splitting within the blind spot of a car making a lane change, catching a driver off guard and causing a reaction, or getting too close and damaging a vehicle.

To avoid the heightened risk of accidents, motorcyclists should steer clear of lane splitting entirely. Motorcycle riders should also be sure to equip themselves with the proper safety equipment, like a helmet, durable clothing, and protective eye gear at all times.

Under Arizona law, riders under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet at all times when operating a motorcycle. There are no legal requirements for wearing a motorcycle helmet for individuals over age 18—still wearing a helmet is a good idea for ensuring your safety.

Lane Splitting Victims

Lane splitting may and often does result in accidents. This is one of the reasons why lane splitting is illegal in almost all states. If you’ve been injured in an accident that involved lane splitting, the first thing that you should do is call a personal injury lawyer who can represent you and build a case to get you appropriate compensation.

If you have been involved in an accident with a motorcycle that was lane splitting, you have a case for receiving damages and repairs from the at-fault motorcyclist. As a driver in a vehicle, you will likely not be at fault as long as you were following the rules of the road and lane splitting was involved, and the motorcyclist’s insurance should cover any damages.

If you are a motorcyclist who has gotten into an accident due to lane splitting, a motorcycle accident lawyer can help you build an appropriate defense.

The personal injury team at JacksonWhite Law is dedicated to each case, and we’ve helped hundreds of car and motorcycle accident victims. As a full-service law firm, JacksonWhite Law has experienced lawyers who deal in motorcycle law, motorcycle accidents and personal injury cases. 

Should you be involved in a motorcycle accident and suffer injuries and/or losses, JacksonWhite can help you pursue the best possible outcome for your case. Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 378-8802 to discuss your case today.

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